You've been hearing it since you were a kid: "Sit up straight." The truth is, there's something to it. Poor posture can lead to back and neck pain—conditions often requiring chronic pain management (yeah, not fun). It might also be the cause of those continuous headaches—not to mention arthritic symptoms and fatigue. Ready to straighten out? We asked Dr. Gerard Clum, president of Life Chiropractic College West and member of the board of directions of the World Federation of Chiropractic, how to improve your posture. Here's what he had to say.
STEP 1: CHECK YOURSELF
So what does proper posture (look like? Start by standing sideways in front of a full-length mirror. Now turn your head to check out the view. What you should be able to do is draw an imaginary straight line from your earlobe to your hip to your knee and the center of your ankle. Sitting down? With your feet flat on the floor, push your butt back to the end of the chair so your back is completely supported and your weight's equally distributed on both hips. Then push your shoulders back to take the strain off of your neck muscles.
STEP 2: KNOW THE SYMPTOMS
If you don't work at proper posture, chances are, you'll start to suffer from aches and stiffness that could have you dealing with chronic pain management down the road. For now, bad posture can leave you with headaches, fatigue (it takes way more energy to unnaturally support yourself) and tight back and neck muscles. Most people feel the symptoms of poor posture in the muscles around the base of the neck and near the shoulder blades. If you don't learn how to improve posture, you could find yourself in trouble later in life. Here's how it works: Years of putting extra strain on your back and neck can actually remodel the bone, which could lead to arthritic symptoms. Muscle irritations, vascular disturbances and neck, arm and even leg pain are also possible.
Next Page: More Ways to Improve Your Posture